On Closer Inspection - The Interrogation of Paolo Veronese

On Closer Inspection - The Interrogation of Paolo Veronese
Author(s): Edward Grasman
Source: Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 30, No. 59 (2009), pp. 125-134
Published by: IRSA s.c.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40343668 .
Accessed: 02/09/2014 22:15
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of
content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms
of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected].
IRSA s.c. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Artibus et Historiae.
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
of Paolo Veronese
On Closer Inspection- the Interrogation
Dedicated to Moni Engel
On April20th1573, Paolo Veronese, already long established and celebrated as a painter at the time, completed
a portrayalofthe Last Supper inthe refectoryofthe Dominican
monasteryof the SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Venice [Fig. 1]. On
July 18thof that same year, he was summoned to appear
beforethe tribunalofthe Holy Inquisitionin Venice because of
that picture.The only outcome of the interrogationseems to
have been that afterthe session, Veronese added an inscriptionto it.The inscriptionrefersto a passage fromthe Gospel
of Saint Luke, which states that Christ had a meal at Levi's
house. The paintinghas since then been knownas the Feast in
the House of Levi. This article develops an argumentleading
to an explanation as to why Veronese had to appear before
thistribunalbecause of thatparticularpaintingat thatparticular moment.The materialhere presented serves to refinethe
discussion of ecclesiastical politics concerning Veronese's
thatPaul Kaplan had already opened up in 1997,
on the two protagonists of the tribunal
whichVeronese had to face: the inquisitorand the nuncio.1
As faras we know,Veronese is the only painterwho was
ever called to account before a similartribunalfora painting.
The unique document of the tribunalrecords was preserved,
and because itis among the most famous in the historyof art,
I can limitmyselfto the followingobservations.2
Afterthe session had been opened witha few ceremonious customs, Veronese seemed unwillingto comply withthe
inquisitor's suggestion, as delivered by the prior of the
monastery - whose name Veronese denied knowing - to
replace the dog in the foregroundwiththe figureof MaryMagdalene. Although we may be able to sympathise with this
refusal, it was the reason the interrogationwas continued,
entirelyunilaterally,as is the case with interrogations:the
inquisitordeterminedthe course of the meeting.
The inquisitorasked a fewquestions about the activitiesof
Peter and two of the table companions, but was satisfiedwith
the briefanswers given by Veronese. He was much more concerned withthe addition of figuressuch as fools, dwarfsand
German soldiers, who had nothingto do withthe biblical story
of the Last Supper. He did not seem to be veryworriedabout
the painting itselfbeing heretical, or whetherVeronese was
a heretic,but ratherwhetherthe picturecould potentiallybe
used as ammunitionby heretics in theirstrugglewiththe Holy
Roman Church.
The inquisitorproved to be verywell acquainted withthe
picture,which he evidentlyknew fromclose personal inspection. He displayed his powers of observance particularly
he questioned the meaning of the man withthe nosebleed.
One has to have examined the picturecarefullyindeed before
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
1) Paolo Veronese, «Last Supper» known as «Feast in the House of Levi», 1573, oil on canvas, 5.55 x 12.80 m; Venice, Gallerie
dell'Accademia. Photo: Collection CKD/RU Nijmegen.
one discovers the nosebleed, thoughthereis no evidence that
Veronese changed anythingabout it afterthe session. The
man was only a servant whose nosebleed was caused, came
Veronese's unconvincing explanation, by some unimportant
mishap, 'per qualche accidente'.
The inquisitorglossed over various remarksby Veronese
that were to intriguelater art historians. The way in which
Veronese talked about the position of painters, at once both
raisingthemto the level of poets and depictingthem as harmless as fools, did not interesthim,at least, he made no comment. Nor did he respond to Veronese's repeated defence,
thatthe nosebleeds, fools, dwarfsand German soldiers were
situated outside Christ's circle, "fuoridel luogo dove si fa la
cena". However much insightthis remark may give us into
Veronese's attitude towards painting and the way in which
mainand subsidiaryfeaturesmay be contrasted in a composition, the inquisitordid not comment on it. He even ignored
such evident blunders on the part of Veronese, such as the
factthatthe Last Supper, according to Veronese, took place at
not lecturing.
Simon's house. The inquisitorwas interrogating,
However, the inquisitor did respond to certain other
remarks,and sharplytoo. When Veronese, asked about other
meals he had portrayed,named the WeddingFeast at Cana in
the San Giorgio Maggiore, the inquisitorwarned him irritably
to limithimselfto meals of the Lord. The inquisitorobviously
considered the meals at Simon's house to belong to thiscategory,such as the one Veronese had produced forthe refectoryin the San Sebastiano in Venice, but not the wedding feast
at Cana. Clearlythe inquisitor'squestion referredto the meals
eitherorganised for,or by,the Lord, and not to a feast where
He was a guest among many,even though this event was the
settingof Christ'sfirstpublic appearance.
remarkablemanoeuThe inquisitor'sreactionto the utterly
vre withwhichVeronese attemptedto justifyhis methods using
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
2) Jacopo Tintoretto,«Last Supper», 1574 or later,oil on canvas, 2.30 x 5.40 m; Venice, San Polo. Photo: Collection CKD/RU
Michelangelo's Last Judgementinthe Sistine chapel was unexpected. Michelangelo supposedly depicted everyone, including the VirginMary,in the nude - an exaggeration on Veronese's part to express how many liberties Michelangelo had
taken while painting it. It is strange that Veronese defended
himselfwith a paintingthat had caused so much trouble in
Rome that,ten years previously,the most blatantlynaked parts
were re-paintedby order.Veronese's defence could only really
be used against him,unless he wanted to traveldown the dangerous road of speculating on dissension withinthe tribunal.
The inquisitorresponded withthe comment thatthe nudityin
a pictureof the Last Judgementwas not unsuitable,choosing
an independentattitudethat could possibly have caused him
troublein Rome.3 Pointingout thattherewere no dogs or fools
to be seen in Michelangelo's work,the inquisitorreturnedto
the subject he meant to pursue without being diverted:
Veronese had added figuresto his piece thatwere not suitable
fora portrayalofthe Last Supper.
The report concludes withthe injunctionthat Veronese
must improve his picture withinthree months, at his own
expense. In the records, the remark that the improvement
must be suitable to the subject matterof the Last Supper has
been struck off.Shouldn't we consider this deletion to be
extremelysignificant?Veronese apparently understood the
to mean thatthe additionof an
conclusion of the interrogation
inscriptionwould suffice.The inscriptionaltered the subject of
to what the inquisitorwanted
the work.Was this verydifferent
fromhim in the firstplace? The substitutionof the figureof
MaryMagdalene forthe dog would have changed the subject
from a Last Supper to a Feast at the House of Simon. By
adding the inscription, Veronese was complying with the
inquisitor'searlier suggestion, by which we may assume that
the finalchange was suggested by thisofficialhimselfand that
the said sentence was deleted preciselyforthis reason.
Since Armand Baschet's introduction,in 1867, of Veroit
document to the literatureof arthistory,4
nese's interrogation
has inspiredmanyto add theiropinions to the discussion concerningthe main question: what broughtVeronese beforethe
Inquisition? When we consider the nature of the inquisitor's
questions, it seemed natural for the authors to look forthe
in the iconographyofthe painting.Therefore,
answer primarily
no convincinganswers have yet been providedto these ques127
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
tions: whythe interrogation
took place at thatprecise moment
and whypreciselythisworkby Veronese should have prompted the interrogation.
These are the questions I hope to answer
in the following.
Beforediscussing any of these questions, we must realize
that both the officialrecords of Veronese's interrogationand
the paintingthatoccasioned itare isolated phenomena. In contrastto the situationin Tuscany,Venice did not have a tradition
of portrayalsof the Last Supper in monasteryrefectoriesand
we know very littleabout the few precedents of Veronese's
painting.Bonifaciode'Pitatiis supposed to have painted a Last
ofthe S. Andrea al Lido, butthe identiSupper forthe refectory
ficationis disputed.5The only precedent forVeronese's piece
about which we know at least something, is Titian's Last
Supper, which itwas to replace, butthe documentationon this
workis also inadequate. Even the lengthofthe painting'sexistence is uncertain;notmuch can be ascertained otherthanthat
Vasari saw it and suspected that a substantial part of it was
done by the studio,and thatitwas destroyedby firein 1571 .6
Of course, there were other pictures in Venice depicting
the Last Supper, in particularby Tintoretto,but these were
uses. The majorityof these pictures
place where the Holy Sacrament of
the Eucharist was kept. The charitable duties of the
Brotherhoodsofthe Sacrament who ordered such paintingsin
numerous Venetian churches are expressed in several of
these works. Such is the case in Tintoretto'slaterale withthe
Last Supper in the San Polo [Fig. 2]. This workwas produced
eitherin or after,but certainlynot before 1574.7 Some years
ago, it was argued that the disciple who is distributingthe
bread fromthe table to a needy person should be identifiedas
Judas Iscariot. Perhaps this identificationis not correct, but
the factis thatthereis a solid argumentto support it,the argument being the purse in his belt.8There is, at least, room for
confusion, and the question arises as to why Tintorettowas
nevercalled beforethe InquisitioninVenice to account forthis
anomaly. Perhaps the momentumhad passed?
The tribunalof the Inquisitionin Venice consisted of six
people. Firstof all, there was the inquisitor,a member of the
Franciscan order until1560. Afterthat date, this officialwas
selected fromthe ranksofthe Dominicans, and inthe decades
we are speaking of, usually came fromthe terrafirma,the
mainland of the Republic of Venice. The inquisitorconducted
The chairmanshipofthe tribunalwas divided
the interrogation.
between the nuncio and the Patriarch of Venice, who were
occasionally representedby theirauditori.The nuncio was the
Pope's envoy fromRome; the Patriarchrepresented the diocese ofVenice. Finally,therewere the threeSavi all'Eresia, the
representatives of the Republic.9 The tribunal maintained
a balance on various fronts: between the Church and the
State, between Venice and Rome and between the Church of
Venice and the Church of Rome. There appears to have been
remarkablyharmonious cooperation withinthe tribunal,as no
reportsof internalconflicthave survived.The primaryreason
forthis harmonywas the mutual objective: both the Vatican
and the Serenissima, a republicthatembraced Christianprinciples, were set against all forms of disturbances, and this
most certainlyincluded heresy.
The Inquisition had a more secular character in Venice
than anywhereelse and this may have resulted in mildersentences by this court. Death penalties were rarelypronounced
by the Inquisitionin Venice. The jurisdictionof the Venetian
state itself,however,was not so mild. For example, just a few
weeks after Veronese's interrogation, Abraam Righetto
escaped fromthe prison of the Inquisitionnear S. Giovanni in
Bragora, because his guard, Michiel,could not bear to miss
the sight of two thieves being hanged at the Piazzetta, thus
combininga profoundfondness forhis professionwitha glorious neglect of its duties.10 Still,nobody treated a confrontationwiththe Inquisitionlight-heartedly,
not even in Venice.
Itis symptomaticof the lack of interestin the composition
of the tribunalin the literatureon Veronese that the way in
which the members of the college were identifiedis sloppy.
Since Gino Fogolari in 1935, most writershave assumed the
followingcomposition: inquisitorFra Aurelio Schellino, a friar
of the Dominican order,fromBrescia; Giovanni Trevisan,the
Patriarchof Venice, nuncio GiambattistaDei, the archbishop
of Rossano and the three Savi all'Eresia: Giacomo Foscarini,
Niccolo Venier and Alvise Zorzi. Emerich Schaffranfollows
Fogolari,butdisposes of Schellino withoutgivingany explanation. He seems to assume an Inquisitionwithoutan inquisitor,
an eccentric pointof view thatis not followed. For thatmatter,
Schaffranreports,withoutnaming his source, that Giambattista Dei came fromRome. Michelangelo Murarotoo follows
Fogolari, but he is guilty of several minor inaccuracies:
Foscarini is suddenly called Contarini and Alvise becomes
Andrea Zorzi. Muraro also mentions that Venier acted as the
tribunal'ssecretary,though he does not give a source. Andre
Chastel and Kaplan also agree with Fogolari, but between
themselves, they cannot agree on Dei's origins. Chastel
claims thathe was a Roman by birth;Kaplan suggests thathe
was originallyFlorentine,considering his name.11 None of
these writerspaid any attentionto the fact that this tribunal
had undergone a drastic change just before Veronese was
confrontedwithit; a change that seems crucial to a thorough
understanding of the circumstances leading up to this confrontation:a new nuncio had just been appointed.
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
about those who held the
The best source of information
officeof nuncio inVenice between 1533 and 1577 is offeredby
theircorrespondence withtheircontacts in Rome, the Nunziature di Venezia, published between 1958 and 1977 in eleven
volumes. The last fourvolumes in particularare relevantto this
study.12Remarkably,in this issue, there are no referencesto
two of the aforementionedmembers of the tribunal:Fra Aurelio Schellino and GiambattistaDei, the archbishop of Rossano.
If we rely merely on the notes of Nunziature's editors,
Schellino's predecessor as inquisitorin Venice, Fra Valerio
Faenzi, would appear to have been immediatelysucceeded by
Fra Marco Medici fromVerona. Apparentlya remark,made by
Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti,the bishop of Nicastro and at
that time the nuncio of Venice, on September 3rd 1569, has
been overlooked. In a letterto his contact in Rome, Cardinal
Michele Bonelli, Pope Pius V's nipote and, like him,a Dominican, Facchinetti wrote: "il padre inquisitore venuto nuovamente m'havea dato conto che in Gardone, castello della diocese di Brescia [...]".13 This new inquisitor,with his Brescia
background,was Schellino.
The absence of GiambattistaDei is, however,not an omission on the part of the editors of the Nunziature: Facchinetti
was relievedby GiovanniBattistaCastagna, at the timethe one
and only archbishop of Rossano. Castagna arrivedin Venice
on July4th,1573,14exactlytwo weeks beforeVeronese's interrogation. Just how eminentthe position of nuncio in Venice
was is obvious fromthe factthatboth Facchinettiand Castagna
later became Pope, ifonly fora briefperiod. Facchinettiheld
the position as Innocent IX for two months; Castagna was
UrbanusVIIfortwelvedays, the briefestpontificateever.
of GiambatFogolari undoubtedlybased his identification
tista Dei on a document, such as the one dated October 12th
1573, in which the Inquisition issued a verdict in the case
against a lawyeraccused of Lutheranism,AntonioVenier.The
opening words of the verdict read: "loannes Baptista Dei et
Apostolicae Sedis gratiaArchiepiscopus Rossanensis".15 Presumably,Fogolari did not notice thatthe opening lines of older
documents repeatedly state: "loannes Antonius Dei et Apostolicae Sedis gratiaEpiscopus Neocastrensis". In these phrases, no more is said other than that Giambattista (Castagna)
and Giovanni Antonio (Facchinetti)were respectively,by the
grace ofGod and the papal throne,the archbishop of Rossano
and the bishop of Nicastro. Exit GiambattistaDei and along
withhimgoes his Roman or Florentineorigin.
The reason forVeronese's appearance beforethe Inquisibeen looked forin the
tionhad, as previouslystated, primarily
recent endeavour in
this direction was produced by Maria Elena Massimi, with
a lengthy study aimed at showing that Jesus Christ at the
house of the Pharisee was the original subject of the painting.16This study leaves the reader wonderingabout the crucial question: why didn'tVeronese informthe inquisitionright
away thatthis indeed was the case?
And if the interrogation of Veronese was placed in
a broader historical context, it was usually in quite general
terms.One exponent of this approach is Muraro.He regarded
the interrogationas a clash between, on the one hand, the triumphantatmosphere in Venice afterthe naval battleat Lepanto on October 7th1571 , when a fleetof the allies Spain, Venice
and Rome achieved a victoryover the fleet of the Ottoman
Empire,and, on the other,the Council ofTrent,thathad issued
regulationsfora more stringentportrayalof religious images
during the last meetings in 1562 and 1563. The celebratory
mood after Lepanto must have given Veronese reason to
include elements in his workthatwere not in accordance with
Trent.17Whythis clash should take place years laterand why
Veronese should be a victimof it because of this paintingfor
this location,was never explained by Muraro.
The firstperson to ask such pertinentquestions and to
attemptto answer them was Paul Kaplan, in 1997. He places
the interrogationin the context of the developments and
events that, as regards time, space and theme, were much
closer, closer to 1573, closer to the SS. Giovanni e Paolo and
closer to the biblical episode depicted by Veronese. Kaplan
ofVeronese in particularto the sepconnects the interrogation
arate peace that Venice negotiated withthe Ottoman Empire
on March 7th1573, to the bull In Coena Domini thatthe Pope
issued each year on Maundy Thursday,the celebration of the
Last Supper, an annual bull that had led to frictionbetween
Rome and Venice since the appointment of the strictPope
Pius V and to the problems that the SS. Giovanni e Paolo
raised when Rome attemptedto reformthe monastery.18
One mustbe gratefulto Kaplan forintroducingthe Nunziature di Venezia intothe literatureon Veronese's confrontation
withthe Inquisition.His argument,however,seems founded
on a selective use of this source of information.
Withthis separate peace treaty,Venice broke the fragile
alliance that had been formed with considerable effortby
Pope Pius V in 1571 between Rome, Spain and Venice, to
combat the heathen Ottoman Empire. Somewhere halfway
throughthe formationof the alliance thatled to the unexpected triumphat Lepanto and the separate peace treatythat
Venice had concluded, Pius V died, on May 1st1572, and GregoryXIIIsucceeded himto the officesome ten days later.This
new Pope also had every intentionof fightingthe Ottoman
Empire, and when, at the beginning of April,the Venetian
ambassador Paolo Tiepolo notifiedhimof the separate peace
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
treaty,he was furious.Tiepolo's reportdescribes how, standing withhis back to the ambassador, he fulminateda ban on
him. The Pope then refused to receive him for weeks. But
when those weeks had passed, around May and certainlyby
June, his furyhad cooled, he became approachable once
more,and was once again willingto receive Tiepolo.19 Gregorywas farfromthe rigidlystrictfigurethathis predecessor had
been. Particularlythe understanding Spain showed for the
Venetianattitudeallegedly persuaded Gregoryto let go of his
anger. It is remarkablethat there is absolutely no mentionin
the Nunziature that Rome considered excommunicating
Venice in 1573 afterthe separate peace treaty,although it is
reported- though onlyonce - thatVenice anticipateda ban at
the time.20
The problems surrounding the bull In Coena Domini
appear to have arisen before the alliance was established,
mainlyin 1569. Pope Pius V metwithopposition, not onlyfrom
Venice, but also fromNaples and Milan and more especially
fromSpain.21 There was resistance against the greatercontrol
the Pope wanted to acquire by means ofthis bull over the local
clergy,and against local policy pertainingto hereticsand heathens. Allegedly,the clause thatany partywho leftthe alliance
would be excommunicated was affixedto the version of this
bull that GregoryXIII issued on March 19th1573.22 However,
the truthof this storyis questionable. No trace of a bull with
thisappendix can be foundinVenice, and the correspondence
between the nuncio in Venice and his contacts in Rome do not
give any reason to suspect a ban. On April 25th 1573,
Facchinettimentionedthis bull,withno furthercomment,and
copies of it were sent to him on May 9th,once again withno
comment. By thattime,both parties already knew that
Venice had caused the breach inthe alliance.23 Facchinettidid
not even feel that he needed to notifyRome that he had
received the bull.There is absolutely no indicationthatthe bull
contained any inflammatory
materialsuch as the excommunication of the partyresponsible forbreakingthe alliance - that
is to say, of Venice.
Kaplan states that the monastery of the SS. Giovanni
e Paolo was in an awkward situation,around 1573. His text
implies that the monasterywas a bastion of heresy. We find
this idea recurrentin other literatureon Veronese's interrogation.24Althoughthe monasteryseems to have been experiencing all sorts of problems, itmay seriously be doubted whether
therewas much - ifany - heresy involved.
Around1570 and 1571, while Facchinettiwas stilla nuncio
in Venice, the monastery of the SS. Giovanni e Paolo was
experiencingtwo major problems, both of which were related
to the implementationof the decisions made at the Council of
Trent.There were strong feelings of resistance against the
conversion ofthe monasteryfroma Conventual intoan Observant house by the externalappointmentof a vicarfromthe latter,strictertendency,and against the introductionof a minimum age of sixteen fornovices. The conflictswithFacchinetti,
who wanted to enforcethe observance ofthe Council's regulations just as fanaticallyas Pope Pius V, ran so high that,on
November 15th1570, Facchinettieven spoke of excommunicating the church of the SS. Giovanni e Paolo. A monthlater,
on December 16th1570, he reportedto Rome thatthe monasteryneeded a diligentvicar "per corregere i vitiiloro che si
sentono grandissimi".25However, Facchinettidid not specify
the vices in question. A definitivesolution to the problem of
the vicariatewas reached inAugust 1571 withthe appointment
of Eliseo Capys, a memberofthe Observants, in thatcapacity,
a decision imposed by the general of the order.26Reactions
fromthe SS. Giovannie Paolo to thisappointmentare notdocumented and so itseems the brethrenresigned themselves to
The second conflictinvolvedthe regulationby the Council
ofTrentabout the minimumage of sixteenfornovices entering
the monastery,to which the monasteryof SS. Giovanni e Paolo objected. There were several boys under sixteen there
who had taken the habit,and the brethrenwere frightenedof
losing them. Facchinettipaid a long visitto the monasteryon
January12th1571, duringwhich this problem was addressed
and solved, at least forappearances' sake, as Facchinettiheld
no illusionsabout the brethrenbeing completelyconvinced by
the necessity to reform.27
Again, pressure had to be exerted
by the general of the order beforethis issue could be settled.
The outcome was thatthe boys undersixteenwere sent home,
though the parents objected on the grounds that they could
not affordto keep them. It would, therefore,appear that the
monastery'smotivesto keep the boys were notfinancial.28
In order to get a betterpicture of the problems between
the nuncio and the Dominican monasteryof the SS. Giovanni
e Paolo a more complete pictureis needed. Duringthe Council of Trent,the decision fellto regimentthe monasteries, but
before this could be done, substantial opposition needed to
be overcome. A large minority
fromthe monasteries were set
Council, the Dominicans in particuduring
lar objected, submittingwrittenobjections as well.29The problems between the monasteryof the SS. Giovanni e Paolo and
the Vatican should thereforecertainlybe regarded in the light
of the Dominican resistance to the regimentation of the
monasteries. In the lettersFacchinettiwrote duringhis office
in Venice, he does indeed occasionally referto heresy among
monks, but never in connection withDominicans, norwiththe
brethren at the monastery of the SS. Giovanni e Paolo.
Shouldn't we consider it likelythat these "vitii",these vices,
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
referin particularto theirrecalcitranceto comply withthe regulations laid down by the Council of Trent?
Justafterthe monasteryof the SS. Giovanni e Paolo had
capitulatedand the boys had been sent home, a firebroke out,
causing substantial damage. Rumour had it, as Facchinetti
remarked in a letterdated February 14th1571, that soldiers
housed at the monasteryhad startedthe fire.30Fromotherletters by Facchinettiwe can deduce thattheywere soldiers from
In December 1570, some captains and their men, from
both the Swiss Catholic cantons and fromGraubunden, had
arrivedinVenice to reinforcethe troops. The firstgroup offered
theirservices forcombat on land, the latterfor both on land
and forthe fleet.The Venetianauthoritiesdecided to send the
soldiers fromthe Catholic regions of Switzerlandback untilfurthernotice,but did not knowwhatto do about the others.They
forthe fleet,but suspected at
could reallyuse reinforcements
least partofthe "Grisoni"of heresy.The authoritiesput offtaking a decision, and consequentlythe soldiers were not paid for
weeks, and resentmentamong the troops increased.31Itwould
appear that they were lodged in the monastery of the SS.
Giovannie Paolo to await the decision concerningtheirfuture,
and thattheirdissatisfactionconvenientlyexplained the fire.
the grain store and
Facchinettireportedthatthe refectory,
the canteen had been destroyed, including a small stock of
grainand wine. However,he was remarkablysilentabout such
details as the complete loss ofTitian'sLast Supper, remarkable
because Titianand he had known each other forsome time.
Some years before,Bonelli had ordered a paintingfromTitian,
preferablya Saint Catherine, via Facchinetti.Afterreceiving
a picturewiththatsubject, more than a year later,Bonelli had
asked Facchinettito pass on his thanksto Titianforhim.32
Veronese finishedhis Last Supper, which was to replace
Titian'sversion,on April20th1573, two weeks afterFacchinetti
had informedthe Pope about the separate peace, and he was
interrogatedon July18th1573, two weeks afterCastagna had
assumed officeas the new papal nuncio. Whitesmoke did not
just proclaima new Pope, buta whole new papal courtas well.
Some changes were made immediately,but others needed
a littlemore time. Throughoutthe Counter Reformation,the
Vatican underwentdrastic transformationswhenever a new
pope assumed office.
The most strikingexample of changing fortunesas a consequence of this succession of popes was Cardinal Giovanni
Gerolamo Morone. Duringthe last meetings of the Council of
Trent,which took place during the pontificate of Pius IV,
Morone had so much influencethat he is called the architect
of the Council. Under Pius IV's predecessor, Morone would
never have been given the opportunity,as Pope Paul IV had
accused himof heresy and Pius IV's successor, Pius V,would
also have made the same accusation, ifit had not discredited
the Council ofTrent- and thisCouncil was sacred to thissaintlyPope. By contrast,GregoryXIIIallowed the aging Morone to
perform delicate missions. The conclusion that the Holy
Roman Church could not form a united frontduring the
Counter Reformationseems quite accurate.33
For Facchinettitoo, the succession of Popes had consequences. AfterGregory XIII assumed office, he no longer
reported to Bonelli, Pius V's secretario del stato, or, when
Bonellifellill,to GirolamoRusticucci,butto the new secretario
del stato, Tolomeo Galli. On May 24th1572, just a few weeks
afterthe death of Pius V, itwas reportedthat Facchinettihimself was to be replaced.34 However,he remained in officeuntil,
at the beginningofApril1573, the reportsofVenice's separate
peace hitRome like a bombshell. And when he had to take to
his bed forseveral weeks afterthat,his career as nuncio was
over. He was accused of providingRome withinformation
was too optimisticallyworded.35 To justifyhimself, in his
remaining weeks in Venice, he maintained his scepticism
about the size of the peace partyin Venice and he attempted
to depict his reaction to the Doge's announcement of the
peace as more indignantthan itreallyhad been.36 Itwas to no
avail. On June 6th 1573, he was told that Castagna was to
replace him as nuncio, and immediatelyafterintroducinghis
successor to the Senate, Facchinettileftthe city.37
Veronese painted the new picture of the Last Supper for
we do not have
the SS. Giovanni e Paolo, but, unfortunately,
the contract. We do not know who commissioned the work.
Carlo Ridolfihas suggested that Fra Andrea de'Buoni, about
whom we know nextto nothing,commissioned it,but perhaps
the prioris more plausible. Fogolari identifiedhim as Adriano
Alvari,a risingstar inthe Dominican sky.38Veronese said, durthathe did not know his name. I willnot
ing the interrogation,
comment on the probabilityof this statement.Veronese said
that the prior had been "here", meaning the spot where he
now stood, in the San Teodoro, where the Inquisitionmet in
the summer months. Had the priorbeen formallyquestioned?
Whywere no records made of this interrogation?
Who actually broughtVeronese's Last Supper in the SS.
Giovannie Paolo beforethe Inquisition?Most cases were submittedby the Savi all'Eresia, but is that the case here? Who
actually had access to the refectory of the Dominican
monastery,besides the brethrenthemselves? We know that
Vasari had been thereonce, when Titian'sversion ofthe painting was stillthere. Iftheyso wished, privateindividualscould
visit the refectory,and Vasari evidentlywished to. Who else
wanted to visitit?
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
3) Jacopo Tintoretto,«Saint Mark Saves a Saracen from
Being Drowned», 1562 or later,oil on canvas, 3.98 x 3.37 m;
Venice, Gallerie dell'Accademia. Photo: Collection CKD/RU
Duringthe proceedings, it became evident that inquisitor
Fra Aurelio Schellino was very well acquainted withVeronese's picture,even betterthan Veronese himself,who apparently suffereda lapse of memorywhen he remarkedthat one of
the soldiers was drinkingand anotherwas eating. As the interrogation was not held in the SS. Giovanni e Paolo, both the
inquisitorand the painterwould have had to speak frommemory.The inquisitorhad a detailed knowledge of the work,as is
obvious fromhis question about the nosebleed thatVeronese
had painted. He knewthe paintingand so he must have visited
the monastery,which mightwell be expected, of course, from
a Dominican friar.Actually,itwould have been more surprising
if he had not visited the most prestigious monastery of his
order in thatcity.Isn't itlikelythat,on thatoccasion, the prior's
"interrogation"was held, in frontof the picture itself?That
mightexplain whythereare no records of it:these notes were
never made. Isn't it likely,too, that Schellino himselfbrought
the case beforethe Inquisition?The question remains:why?
We don't need an in-depthunderstandingof psychology
to realise thatSchellino wanted to prove himselfto the nuncio
who had arrived in Venice only two weeks earlier,especially
when everythingpointsto the factthatthissession mustreally
have been the veryfirstthatCastagna attended in the city.39
In view of the precarious situationin which Venice found
itself,so soon after the separate peace with the Ottoman
Empire,which was deeply regrettedby Rome and which was
the reason forCastagna's arrival,the independentattitudethat
Schellino took towards Michelangelo's fresco, so disputed in
Rome, was franklyadmirable.40Schellino did not only show
personal valour,but he also immediatelymade itveryclear to
Castagna that he was no longer in Rome, but in Venice. By
workingtowards a solution of the described problem,Schellino also proved his efficiencyand his tolerance. But in the end,
and perhaps most importantly,
Schellino proved, by summoning the famous painter Veronese before the Inquisition to
question an ambitious work for the prestigious Dominican
monasteryofthe SS. Giovannie Paolo, thathe spared no one,
not even the orderto which he himselfbelonged.
To summarise, the immediatereason forVeronese's interrogationwas the iconographyof his painting,but the underlying reason was thatthe inquisitorfeltthe need to prove himself
to the newlyappointed nuncio. We mighteven conclude that
the crucial dynamics inthe entireproceedings had verylittleto
do withVeronese but everythingwith internalecclesiastical
Until 1867, when Armand Baschet chanced upon the
records in the archives, no one had even a suspicion of
Veronese's interrogation.
And yet,ifanyone could have known
about it,itwould have been in the buildingadjacent to thatof
the SS. Giovanni e Paolo, the Scuola Grande di San Marco.
They were not merely neighbours; this rich Scuola also had
the rightsto the main chapel in the SS. Giovannie Paolo itself.
On August 10th1573, scarcely three weeks afterVeronese's
interrogation,the Scuola sent three paintingsthat had been
hanging in the Sala Capitolare back to the person who had
commissioned them [Fig. 3]. These works by Tintoretto,
depicting episodes fromthe legend of Saint Mark,the patron
saint of the Scuola, had been manufacturedin the years after
1562 and were commissioned by the Guardian Grande at that
time,Tommaso Rangone, who was grantedthisofficeagain in
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
1568. Rangone, in turn,returnedthe paintingsto the Scuola
fromwhere they were transportedto Tintorettoa littleunder
a month later, on September 8th. Tintorettopromised the
Scuola to complete themand to remove the figureof Rangone
"et in loco di essa mettendoaltra accomodata".41 Rangone's
prominentplace, centralto the action in the pictures,had presumably become a problemforthe Scuola. Dolce had already
in termsthatcan hardlybe called implicit,
a numberof senators in a paintingof
the Excommunication by Pope Alexander III of Frederick
Barbarossa in the Sala del Gran Consiglio: "ne hanno punto
da farcon la storia".42Afterthe Council of Trent,the inclusion
of contemporaries in religious pictures was feltto be even
more of a problem, certainly if they were included in the
action. In April1571, a conflicthad arisen between the Scuola
and Rangone,43 but what induced the Scuola to delay the
returnof these paintingsuntilabout two and a halfyears later,
untilexactly that moment,in 1573? Were they taking advantage ofthe tense situationthathad arisen just around the corner at the SS. Giovanni e Paolo? In the end, it looks as if
Tintorettohas altered nothingat all in the paintings,an oversightthatdoes not seem to have had any unfavourableconsequences for him. Again, had the momentum,by the end of
The question is whetheror notthe display ofVenetianindependence that Schellino put on duringVeronese's interrogation was actually necessary. Just one week before Castagna
leftRome on June 20th1573, Facchinettiwas informedthatthe
Pope's wrathincurredby Venice had cooled a few days earlier.44Castagna must have leftRome realisingthat his position
was less precarious than it had formerlyappeared. Schellino
would not have knownthatyet,and the character of the new
nuncio would have been unknownin Venice. However,itmust
soon have become obvious that Castagna differedgreatlyto
Facchinetti.In his lettersto Rome, Castagna worriesabout the
delicate missions of Cardinal Morone. Would the old man manage to reach his destinationsin Genua and, later,Vienna safely? It is almost touching to read Castagna's concern and his
reliefin response to positivereportsin his letters.45
a word that we would never need to use in reference to
Castagna's predecessor, Facchinetti.
If the facts do not lie, Dei is a false lead, Facchinetti
a zealot who, at times, needed to be curbed by the Curia
itself46and Castagna particularlyhuman, however dedicated
he too was to the cause of combating heretics and heathens.
And Paolo Veronese was, even more so than Tintoretto,for
a while, very much in the wrong place at the wrong, wrong
The author would like to thank Michael Thimannforthe invitationto
deliver the lecture on which this paper is based at the Kunsthistorisches Institutin Florenz. Gratitudeis also due to Anton Boschloo,
Caroline van Eck, Elizabeth den Hartog, Benjamin Paul and Debra
Pincus fortheirstimulatingremarkson earlierdraftsofthistext,which
was translatedfromthe Dutch by Natasha Bradley.
1 P. H. D. Kaplan, "Veronese and the inquisition:tne geopolitical
context",in E. Childs, ed., Suspended license: censorship and the
visual arts,Seattle and London, 1997, pp. 85-124.
Integraltranscriptionsin P. Fehl, "Veronese and the Inquisition.
A study of the subject matterof the so-called 'Feast in the House of
Levi'", Gazette des Beaux-Arts,58, 1961, pp. 325-354 and M. Muraro,
I'histoire",in Sym"La Cene de Veronese: les figures,I'interrogatoire,
boles de la renaissance, III, Paris, 1990, pp. 185-221. Veronese was
notthe onlypainterwho was interrogatedbythe Inquisition.Justa few
years before,Riccardo Perucolo had even been sent to the stake, but
not because of a painting.
3 M. Gemin, "Riflessioni iconografiche sulla Cena in Casa di
Levi", in idem, ed., Nuovi studi su Paolo Veronese, Venice, 1990, pp.
4 A. Baschet, "Paul Veronese appele au Tribunaldu Saint Office
a Venise (1573)", Gazette des Beaux-Arts,18, 1867, pp. 378-382.
1573, already passed?
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
5 C. Gilbert,"Bonifacioand
Bassano, ca. 1533", ArteVeneta,32,
1978, pp. 127-133 and S. Simonetti,"Profilodi Bonifacio de'Pitati",
Saggi e Memoriedi Storia dell'Arte,15, 1986, p. 106.
6 G. Vasari,
Vite,G. G. Milanesi,ed., VII,p. 449. See in particular
B. T. D'Argaville,"Titian'sCenacolo forthe Refectoryof SS. Giovanni
e Paolo Reconsidered" in Tiziano e Venezia. Convegno internazionale
distudi, Venezia 1976, Vicenza, 1980. dd. 161-167.
7 M. Matile, Quadri laterali im sakralen Kontext.Studien und
Materialien zur Historienmalerei in venezianischen Kirchen und
Kapellen des Cinquecento, Munich,1997, pp. 219-221.
8 B. Peria, "Tintorettoe I'Ultima
Cena", Venezia Cinquecento, 7,
1997, p. 96.
Duringthese years, itwas usual foronlytwo ofthe Saw all'Eresia to be presentat the interrogations.
10 Archiviodi Stato di Venezia, Santo Uffizio,Busta 36
11 G.
Fogolari, "II processo dell'inquisizione a Paolo Veronese",
Archivio Veneto, 5/7, 1935, pp. 352-386; E. Schaffran,"Der Inquisizionsprozess gegen Paolo Veronese", ArchivfurKulturgeschichte,
1960, pp. 178-193; Muraro 1990, pp. 185-221; A. Chastel, "Dibattiti
con I'lnquisizione (1573)", in Chronique de la peinture italienne a la
Renaissance 1280-1580, Freiburg,1983, pp. 208-226 and 280-285
and Kaplan 1997, pp. 85-124.
12 F. Gaeta & A.
Stella, eds., Nunziaturedi Venezia, I-XI, Rome,
1958-1977. Volumes Vlll-X were edited by Aldo Stella (1963-1977),
volume XI by Adriana Buffardi(1972).
13 GiovanniAntonioFacchinettito Michele Bonelli,d.d. 3-9-1569.
Nunziaturedi Venezia IX,p. 119.
14 Giambattista
Castagna to Tolomeo Galli, d.d. 4-7-1573. Nunziature di Venezia XI, pp. 48-49.
15 Archiviodi Stato di Venezia, Santo
Uffizio,Busta 33 (Antonio
16 M. E. Massimi, "La cosidetta Cena in casa di Levi di Paolo
Veronese: descrizione preliminare all'identificazione del soggetto
come Cena in casa del fariseo", Venezia Cinquecento, 14/27, 2004,
pp. 123-168 and "La regola e I'eccezione: le argomentazioni della
Cena in casa del fariseo e le ragionidella committenzadomenicana",
Venezia Cinquecento, 15/29,2005, pp. 129-154.
17 Muraro1990, pp. 189-190 and 214-217.
Kaplan 1997, pp. 100-105. I'll ignorethe Emortualeby Urbano
Urbani, mentioned by Fogolari, Gemin and Kaplan, because it concerns events thattook place well before 1568.
19 Stella, "Prefazione"in Nunziaturedi Venezia
X, pp. xxxi-xxxii.
20 Facchinettito
Galli, d.d. 2-5-1573. Nunziaturedi Venezia X, p.
21 Stella, "Prefazione" in Nunziature di Venezia
IX, pp. xii-xiii;
Kaplan 1997, p. 103.
Kaplan 1997, pp. 104 and 121 (note 69).
*° Lettersbetween Facchinettiand
Galli, d.d. 25-4-1573 and 9-51573. Nunziaturedi Venezia X, pp. 449-450 and 458-459.
Kaplan 1997, pp. 100-101. Before Kaplan: Fogolari 1935 and
Gemin 1990, afterKaplan: A. Gottdang,"Paolo Veronese Gastmahl im
Haus des Levi: die Revision eines Falls", Das Munster,53, 2000, pp.
202-217 and M. Seidel, "Sakularisierung: der Inquisitionsprozess
gegen Paolo Veronese", Munster-Munchen,56/4,2003, pp. 249-253.
25 Facchinetti to Girolamo Rusticucci, d.d. 16-12-1570.
Nunziaturedi Venezia IX,p. 409.
26 Massimi 2005, pp. 146-150.
27 Facchinettito Bonelli,d.d. 12-1-1571 . Nunziaturedi Venezia IX,
28 Facchinettito Bonelli,d.d. 7-2-1571. Nunziaturedi Venezia IX,
pp. 442-444.
29 H. Jedin, Krisis und AbschluB des TrienterKonzils 1562/63,
Basle and Vienna, 1964, pp. 87-88.
30 Facchinettito Bonelli,d.d. 14-2-1571 . Nunziaturedi Venezia IX,
31 Lettersbetween Facchinettiand Rusticuccior Bonelli,from1312-1570 onwards. Nunziaturedi Venezia IX, pp. 407, 410, 413, 417,
424, 427-428 and 449.
32 Facchinettito Bonelli,d.d. 22-3-1567,and Bonellito Facchinetd.d.
15-5-1568. Nunziaturedi Venezia VIII,pp. 193-194 and 386.
33 M.
Studi sul cardiFirpo,Inquisizione romana e Controriforma.
nal GiovanniMorone (1509-1580) e il suo processo d'eresia, Brescia,
2005, passim.
34 Facchinettito Galli, d.d. 24-5-1572. Nunziaturedi Venezia X,
35 Galli to Facchinetti,d.d. 7-4-1573. Nunziaturedi Venezia X, pp.
36 Facchinettito Galli,d.d. 2-5-1573. Nunziaturedi Venezia X, pp.
452-455. See also: Stella, "Prefazione"in: Nunziaturedi Venezia X, pp.
Castagna to Galli,d.d. 11-7-1573. Nunziaturedi Venezia XI,pp.
38 Foqolari 1935, p. 367.
39 In the Archiviodi Stato di Venezia, Santo Uffizio,Buste 33-36,
no other sessions of the Inquisition between Castagna's arrivalon
July4thand the interrogationof Veronese on July18th1573 are documented.
40 Gemin 1990, 367-370.
41 E.
Weddigen, "Thomas Philologus Ravennas. Gelehrter,
Wohltaterund Mazen", Saggi e Memorie di Storia dell'Arte,9, 1974,
Le opere sacre
pp. 15-18 and 61 ; R. Pallucchini& P. Rossi, Tintoretto.
e profane, I, Milan, 1982, pp. 183-185 and T. Nichols, Tintoretto.
Traditionand Identity,London, 1999, p. 143.
42 L. Dolce, LAretino.
Dialogo della pittura,Venice, 1557.
Weddigen 1974, p. 57.
44 Galli to
Facchinetti,d.d. 13-6-1573 and 20-6-1573. Nunziature
di Venezia X, pp. 475 and 479.
45 Nunziaturedi Venezia
46 Stella, "Prefazione"in: Nunziaturedi Venezia
VIM,p. xii.
This content downloaded from on Tue, 2 Sep 2014 22:15:37 PM
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions